The Magic 8 Ball Athlete
Do you remember the Magic 8 Ball? You ask a question, you shake the ball for the answer and a little bubble with a floating dice, magically (I checked, it’s legit) provides your answer!
Magic 8 Ball can be useful if say, you aren’t sure if you want to go for a picnic or to see a movie; let the ball decide! Stuck on whether to do the dishes or just watch Netflix? Magic 8 Ball will decide!
But that little black ball has no place in training.
Over the years I have watched athletes approach their training with the same outlook as they would that magic ball: Shake it and see; let complete randomness decide how I will train today, and this week, and this month.
It hurts my brain just thinking about it.
Why would you sit down with your planner, a bunch of mates, your family, or anyone else willing to listen to your mad endurance ramblings and plot out your racing for the year ahead, with no consideration for the mechanisms and pathways that need to be established along the way?
If you know me, you know I love a plan. I’m Planning Pete. Sometimes I get a little nuts with it, but I like a form of structure.
From a coaching perspective, the structure is paramount to progress. Without it, you are walking around in the dark, hoping you don’t kick your foot. But inevitably you will.
The Magic 8 Ball Athlete is a danger unto themselves. By approaching your journey with complete randomness, you guarantee yourself the longest possible pathway.
The sharper the stick that dangles the carrot, the more structure you will need. What I mean is, if you just want to get around, have a bit of fun, and don’t care if you go faster than last time, or execute better, or see real progress in training, then you DON’T need structure.
Shake the Magic 8 Ball and let it determine what you should do.
If your stick is sharp and that carrot oh so enticing, then you need to set a plan in place, one that takes you through a progressive pattern of development. It’s logical.
If I wanted to become an accountant, I would have to study, follow the curriculum, and learn. I certainly wouldn’t be able to watch a bunch of YouTube clips, read some blogs and then open up shop.
My/ our job at EC is to build that structure for our athletes.
That structure is also developed with an acute awareness of the need to adapt.
The inverse to the Magic 8 Ball AThlete is the athlete who must only ever see green boxes or their training is ruined and their race already lost.
Being über rigid teaches you to blindly follow a screen, learning nothing about yourself, your intuition and how you adapt to stimulus.
Rigity typically leads to a similar place that the M8B athlete reaches; training confusion, injury/ illness from overtraining & inappropriate loading.
As I said, if you want just to get around (and that’s OK), it’s pretty easy – go for a swim, go for a ride, go for a run. Do that as much as you can – let the 8 Ball decide!
Despite my (oft unhealthy passion for planning), I appreciate the freedom that it gives you. Structure builds fitness and strength at an accelerated rate. The freedom that this provides means that you can pretty much throw yourself into any endurance environment and hold your own.
You can go on crazy little adventures with your crew, testing new skills, exploring new locations – getting out there and doing something that is endurance but isn’t what you do all the time.
You only get that freedom from understanding that structure and balance provided you with the ‘base’ to do it.
If you read this and thought “He’s talking about me” – then we need to talk.
If you read this and thought of someone you know who is the Magic 8 Ball athlete – they need to talk with EC.